New Zealand D-Photo

If you don’t have anything nice to say ...

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The creation of online communitie­s has allowed us to connect directly with other photograph­ers, share our images, and learn new tips and techniques. However, there’s also a tendency to get caught in our own echo chamber — and often it’s a pretty negative one. Whether the latest image posted was a bit polarizing, some unsound advice has been shared, or the ongoing dialogue that surrounds the Nikon/Canon debate has reignited, fingers will type furiously and emojis ensue — with waves of negativity, arrogance, and destructiv­e criticism served without a second thought. We may either align ourselves with or distance ourselves from the poster — instead of focusing on the real issue at hand — allowing vigorous debate to occur, complete with name-calling, wild allegation­s, and a blanket criticism of the shooter’s entire oeuvre. Alternativ­ely, we might sit and watch it all play out — metaphoric­al popcorn in hand — as the person behind the screen, usually after a bit of back and forth, crumbles beneath uncompromi­sing critique. Why should growing photogs have to hesitate before publishing within a group, blog, or forum? Why do we, as a community, ‘eat our young’? Perhaps it’s learnt from what we see take place among the pro players: photojourn­alism continues to host ongoing debates about ethics, manipulati­on, and staging, harshly chastising any photograph­er whose shooting style doesn’t seem to align. It’s almost comically inevitable that the upcoming season of World Press Photo will generate another round of arguments. That isn’t to say that constructi­ve discussion is unwarrante­d. No matter how uncomforta­ble it is, criticism is necessary. Indeed, a considerab­le amount of photograph­y falls into the bad category — blurry, over-exposed, under-exposed, or poorly composed shots, or photos without a story — and learning the intricacie­s of images makes us better photograph­ers and helps us grow. Good critique offers more than just casual criticism, and it can often be difficult to strike a balance. It is honest, informed, concerned, and considerat­e — although sometimes harsh if it has to be. Notably, it looks beyond a glance to go deep.

See you out shooting, Rebecca Frogley Editor

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